Category Archives: SAU 55 Issues
One hour ago, long-time Hampstead resident and SAU critic Jorge Mesa-Tejada was served with a no trespass order from the Superintendent of the Hampstead School District, Dr. Earl Metzler.
The SAU conveniently had a press release prepared – which has not been circulated to the members of the SAU board.
Mr. Mesa-Tejada is chairman of the Hampstead Budget Committee which oversees the Hampstead School District budget in an advisory capacity. During last night’s public budget committee meeting in Hampstead, Mr. Mesa-Tejada was discussing whether or not the budget committee should recommend the school district’s warrant asking for a $4.5 million bond for school building and renovations. One of the arguments advance during a slick school building bond presentation played during the Hampstead School Board meeting a few nights ago, was that students were unsafe from harm when transfering from portables to the main school building. Last night Mr. Mesa-Tejada ridiculed that safety concern by pointing out in more detail than necessary that the children were far more at risk on the playground than when transferring between portables. It is his ridicule, which you can see at 46 minutes into last night’s meeting, that was the superintendent’s pretext for disgracing a valued elected official and an outspoken critic.
Mr. Mesa-Tejada is also the lead petitioner for a citizen’s petition competing against the school district’s $4.5 million bond request. His petition asks for just $1.2 million for renovations only.
Since this is the second time Dr. Metzler has invoked police authority against an elected official who is also a critic, I have called for an emergency meeting of the SAU board. Mr. Mesa-Tejada clearly had no ill intent in mind. No fair minded person could possibly have construed his comments as a threat but only as disparaging the administration’s far fetched justification for what Mr. Mesa-Tejada considers an unnecessary expenditure.
The Hampstead School District has received a citizen’s petition to withdraw from the SAU.
The Hampstead Budget Committee voted not to recommend the school district’s bond warrant by a vote of 1 for and 4 against.
Jan.8, 2016 UPDATE:
The court’s live streaming was not functioning yesterday. So sorry for the frustration this caused. A clerk at the court has assured me the video and audio recording from the trial will be available before the end of day today. I will post it on my blog the minute I learn it is available.
Please stay tuned! The proceedings were fascinating and gave me enormous optimism.
Want to hear my Right-to-Know case being argued in New Hampshire’s Supreme Court tomorrow? The Supreme Court live streams the oral arguments from their website, http://www.courts.state.nh.us/index.htm
Scroll to the bottom of the page and in the middle you will see the symbol for the Supreme Court which looks like the Parthenon. Clicking on that will bring you to the audio and video archives as well as another symbol of the court. Clicking on the symbol will take you to live streaming of arguments.
Green v. SAU 55 et al will be argued around 1:30 PM January 7, 2016 and is scheduled to last approximately 30 minutes.
The video and audio archive of the arguments should be loaded to the site within 24 hours. I’ll link to it on this blog when it becomes available.
When you wake up with 8 inches of snow in your driveway, or go to bed worrying about the overnight weather, our SAU has established a list of outlets for the announcement of snow days. This list was prudently circulated yesterday by press release. This time, though, there is a new twist.
For those who want the very earliest announcement about school cancellation, follow Superintendent Metzler’s Twitter feed – not Timberlane’s Twitter feed.
The press release says in part, “Earliest announcements will be made through Twitter. Those wishing to receive Twitter announcements may do so by subscribing to Twitter; twitter.com/SuptSAU55.”
Timberlane’s Twitter address is: twitter.com/TimberlaneRSD.
I have a suggestion. How about using my blog as the earliest announcement media location?
Clearly, we need some protocol about the protocol. Do we want employees enhancing their social media profile as part of their professional duties?
You can be sure I will never have the opportunity to bring this up at a school board meeting because the chairman has imposed a hard stop to meetings at 10:30 pm, extended only to complete the most pressing topics. It was ostensibly imposed to end long meetings, but it was really imposed to prevent “Other Business” topics and “Reports of the School Board” which are regular agenda items now never addressed. Since the chairman will not include agenda topics from me, especially ones that might result in some direction to our superintendent, there is no way for a dissenting board member to ask for discussion of runaway advisory committee propagation, the use of press releases to inform the board of important business, the superintendent’s use of social media, and so on. School board meetings are all for show and have no substance. And please do not think profundity is going on behind the scenes. What you see, is what there is.
Snow Day Announcements Press Release: SNWDYS2015-2016
Danville’s Board of Selectmen chairman, Shawn O’Neil, sent a very revealing letter to Superintendent Metzler and the school board on Nov. 20. It details years of missed filing deadlines set by the state’s Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) for district documents.
- The research stopped at 2013. It is not known how long DRA filing deadlines have been slipping in our district.
- Mr. O’Neil concentrated on DRA filing deadlines. One has to wonder if filing deadlines to the Department of Education are treated with similar elasticity.
I’ve personally been aware of a few late filings, not in my capacity as a school board member, but as a cohort of Arthur Green who is ever on the watch for financial information about the district. He discovered that the end-of-year financial report was weeks late.
You may recall that the SAU wanted to charge us $39.50 for copies of this and other public information (such as the staffing report) on November 3. Finally, on Nov. 19, the SAU saw fit to distribute copies of the end-of-year financials (DOE-25) and the NESDEC enrollment report to the school board (at no charge). The staffing report, which has been filed with the Department of Education, has not been given to the board – or the budget committee. Staffing costs make up the overwhelming part of our budget. What possible use could the budget committee make of knowing how many staff we have?
Mr. O’Neil’s letter is yet more evidence that the school board doesn’t have a clue what is going on at the SAU, and that the SAU requires supervision and oversight.
Nearly $49,000 was added to the SAU budget last night in anticipation of higher health insurance rates. I made numerous motions to cut the budget from travel allowances to an unfilled human resource administrative position ($80k with benefits). Every single motion failed spectacularly.
Since the 2013/14 year, the SAU budget has gone up 44%. Taxpayers, has your property value gone up 44% or your pay?
Mr. Dinsmore, member from Hampstead, said the problem is the federal government driving costs, such as Obamacare, down onto the districts and the SAU. We are helpless to do anything about it at the SAU level, he believes. I guess that is why no one supported cutting the travel expense line in the budget from a luxurious $17,000 to $10,000 which is what was spent in 14/15. Or cutting the 3% “merit pool” for SAU employees.
The SAU is a service organization to the Timberlane and Hampstead School Districts. It is also a monopoly. Districts cannot seek services elsewhere without a district vote and years of transition. I neglected to ask at last night’s public hearing how much of a raise for the superintendent (to 2022) was built into the budget. The superintendent’s most recent raise was 6.75% with a 4% bonus. The SAU does not publish the salaries of the SAU staff – even for the benefit of the SAU board – despite the fact that this is public information. The SAU board likes it this way because the less information they have, the more effectively they can administer the budget. Information gums up the rubber stamp.
Tomorrow night, Nov. 18, SAU55 is holding a public hearing on their 2016/17 budget.
The budget is up 30% over two years. Here are other things people generally don’t know about the SAU’s budget.
- Only the SAU board can change the SAU budget.
- Voters have no say over the SAU budget. They can neither approve nor reject the budget, and they have no power to change so much as a single line of it.
- The SAU budget is inserted as a single line item into the budgets of Timberlane and Hampstead School Districts. This is the ONLY line in both school district budgets that cannot be changed by citizens at Deliberative.
- In March 2013 district citizens voted to separated the SAU budget from the school districts budgets on the strength of a successful citizen’s petitioned warrant article (promulgated by Jorge Mesa-Tejada in Hampstead, and your humble correspondent in Timberlane). This meant that voters could reject the SAU budget and put it into default. That is exactly what happened in March of 2014. Ironically, the March 2014 election also saw another citizen’s petition reverse the previous petition, putting the SAU budget for 15/16 once again into the school districts’ budgets. This stripped voters of any subsequent say about the SAU’s relentless salary and expense increases. Sandown citizens voted in the majority in 2014 to keep the SAU budget separate, but they were outvoted by the other towns in the district.
- Not a single cut was made to the SAU’s proposed budget by the SAU board. The merit pool increase for employees was not even mentioned or disclosed.
- Voters’ only dim hope is to pressure the SAU board into reducing the budget at the SAU’s public hearing tomorrow night.
*I previously reported that Timberlane’s portion of the SAU budget can be rejected only if the entire budget for Timberlane goes to default. That is not correct. Even if Timberlane’s budget goes into default, the SAU still gets every cent it asked for. Rotten state of affairs, but there you go.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
– Omar Khayyam (not writing about the SAU budget in 1942)